SEVEN years ago Jody Bunting decided to change.

Weighing in at a hefty 31 stones, Jody decided it was time to shed the pounds and get healthy.

Little did he know then he would have shed half his body weight to become a svelte 15 stone.

But by far the biggest change Jody, a former chef, underwent is in becoming a fully trained fitness instructor.

During his quest to battle the bulge, the 30 year old developed a love of all things fitness, even training to be an aerobics instructor at a considerable 25 stones while still shedding the pounds.

If that all sounds a little familiar, then you would be right.

For Jody's quest led to interest from TV companies and before he knew it he was hired as the resident fitness expert on Channel 4's Big Breakfast, despite his still considerable size at that stage.

"They gave me a slot called Lose it With Jody," he explains, "It was amazing as I knew people that had been in the fitness industry for years looking for a break and here I was just starting out with my own TV slot."

Jody lost his weight thanks to healthy eating and exercise, but before his decision to change his eating habits were a different story.

"I was fat as a child," he reveals, "at the age of five I weighed five stone and at the age of nine, nine stone. Part of the problem was that my mum and dad worked at the Nestle chocolate factory. In the end they tried to hide things from me but I would always find them.

"I loved food and every morning I would have my breakfast at home and then stop of at my grandma's on the way to school and she would give me another breakfast not knowing I'd already had one."

"Even at school they were told to cut my portions down but because I loved food so much the ladies used to save me things at the end of the day."

Having developed a taste for food early, Jody then went on the train as a chef.

"Probably not the best career choice of someone who loved food as much as I did," he laughs.

It was during his chef training that Jody's weight ballooned to 31 stone.

"Both my girlfriend and I loved to cook and would even lie in bed sometimes eating a whole chocolate cake between us," he reveals.

However everything changed with the birth of his daughter, as well as an appearance on an edition of the Trisha talk show titled Is Fat Sexy?

During the show Jody was harangued by the audience for his size with the crowd yelling at him that he would not live to see his daughter.

Jody says: "It really hit home and when Phoebe my daughter was three months old I decided to do something about it and start more exercise classes and really got into healthy eating as well."

It was that decision that now leads him to want to help others in the same situation to turn their lives around.

Fast forward to 2008 and Jody is spearheading the search for unfit couch potatoes in south east Essex.

Together with business partner and life coach Natasha Gant, Jody has launched the Fat Factor.

A take on popular reality TV shows, the six week programme aims to turn around the lives of those who have battled the bulge to no avail.

Having already run successful fat factor sessions in Kent, the pair have now teamed up with Excel Health and Performance in Eastwood to launch in Essex.

Up to 20 people can take part at a time and at least five places on each course are free, thanks to an auditions day where entrants convince the panel of their desire to change.

If you don't want to audition the six week programme costs £199.

Success stories can be seen on the Fat Factor website and include 29-year-old man who has lost more than two stone in just three weeks of the programme.

During the six week course people are being educated about their diets in order to transform their figures as well as being tutored by fitness experts and life coaches to help tackle the emotional side of eating.

It also has a competitive element.

Natasha explains:" The winner will be the person who shows they have changed their lifestyle the most. The prize is a makeover and a year's membership to the health club."

In the first week of the programme, participants gear themselves up for the start of the diet by trying to cut things like sugar, wheat and caffeine from their daily meals and snacks.

"We are looking for everyone who wants to lose weight to attend our auditions people will then be selected to be put onto the weight loss programme with our team of the weight loss experts," Jody says.

If they stick to the advice offered and attend the weekly group and personal training sessions, entrants can hope to lose a stone during the six weeks.

More importantly they will have changed their attitude to food and fitness says Jody.

He adds: "Forget slimming pills and operations, change your lifestyle and you'll be happy and healthy forever."

The auditions day for Fat Factor in Essex takes place this Saturday (June 7) at Excel Health and Performance, Progress Road, Eastwood from 2pm to 6pm.

For more information and for an application form visit The Fat Factor website at